|English and Related Literature|
|Finance and consultancy|
|Large business (250+ employees)|
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A day in the life of a Copywriter in the United Kingdom
Whilst living abroad, I started working as a freelance writer for small businesses and my career has blossomed naturally from there.
Briefly describe the organisation you work for
I work as a copywriter at Barclays Head Office in London (when/if the lockdown eases, that is). The role is part of the Marketing team, or Creative Studio. Working for such a large and well-known company is both exciting and, at times, nervewracking, because my writing goes out to the bank's customers all across the UK. Of course, there is an extenstive editing and verifying process!
What do you do?
Probably the most common question I get asked is "what is a copywriter?" Even though the answer is in the title itself (writer), I'll explain here. I spend my days writing and editing copy for various business channels, including the BUK website, app screens and letters. The role involves understanding and appealing to your audience and using the correct tone of voice for the situation, as well as collaborating with stakeholders to help them get their point across. They could be looking they promote a new financial product or initiative. I work as part of a team of around 15 copywriters so there is a wonderful sense of community and collaboration.
Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?
My recent career history is fairly interesting! After leaving a job in publishing, I lived abroad for three years, working as a freelance writer and Social Media Manager. It was both a struggle and an eye-opening experience. Finding it difficult to land a job in a country where I didn't speak the language cemented my decision to write for a living. Besides the pragmatics, it was a talent I absolutely couldn't ignore any longer, and I knew it would make me happy. I bit the bullet and worked to build a portfolio working for entrepreneurs, small businesses and marketing agencies.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, I had just moved home to the UK. I decided to see if I could put the skills I had learned as a freelancer to the test within a workplace environment. I scoured online job boards including Linkedin Jobs and applied to several that I thought looked promising. In the end, I was invited for two interviews and was offered jobs by both companies! One of these was Barclays: an absolute dream role for me.
Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?
When I graduated from York, my plans were fairly set on working within the Publishing industry. I knew that this would be difficult as it's a highly competitive industry, but I succeeded and got a job as an account executive at a magazine publisher. After a few years, my goals changed. I'd always dreamed of a career as a writer but my lack of experience and portfolio held me back. This wasn't a good reason! Whilst living abroad, I started working as a freelance writer for small businesses and my career has blossomed naturally from there. Never give up!
Describe your most memorable day at work
As a copywriter for BUK, I often have several projects in flux at any one time. These could be small projects that require a short burst of energy or larger projects over many weeks or months. My most memorable day was when my manager sent through an urgent project to be completed before close of play - there had been a financial update in the news. I managed to review and rewrite the copy, get it peer reviewed and sent back to the stakeholder within the space of an afternoon. The stakeholders were really pleased. Being able to adapt to current affairs and financial news, and sort out issues for your stakeholders is a really great feeling.
What’s your work environment and culture like?
Amazing. Best group of people in the world. I'm so fortunate to have a team that I can rely on and ask for advice whenever I might need it. Plus, we have the best virtual socials!
What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?
At York, I was fairly active in the York Students in Schools scheme. I completed a placement at a primary school and worked as a Student Manager, helping other students who were undertaking placements. It was through this scheme that I developed my social skills: collaborating with others and communicating effectively, as well as building good working relationships and friendships. As a student manager I was able to share my experience and knowledge with other students, which is something I've tried to do throughout my life. I also took part in the York Award: the interview portion of which was very helpful for life post-graduation!
What would you like to do next with your career?
I hope to always be writing for a living. As I enter my thirties fairly soon, (a signpost for more stability?!) I think I can say fairly confidently that I will be. I'm in a career that I love and though it hasn't always been an easy road getting to this point, I'm exactly where I want to be.
What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?
People often say it's important to gain office experience once you graduate, and it doesn't matter where you do so. I think you should absolutely still apply for your dream role! It's never too early to start - and businesses will often admire your enthusiasm and ambition. Most importantly, be open to new career opportunities in all forms. Even if you have a clear plan of the route you wish to take, don't be afraid to try something else that either sounds good or has been recommended to you. Your mindset could be totally different in five years or five months from now - trust me! - so don't box yourself in.
I'd also like to direct this response at those of you who want to have a career in writing, but feel that you lack experience or a big portfolio of published writing. If you have those things, that's great! But you shouldn't be disheartened if you don't. I certainly didn't, when I graduated. We are very fortunate to live in a world where, thanks to the internet, we can have our voices heard. Even if that is via the medium of a personal blog! Don't be afraid to list these things on your CV. Of course, you can also start to dip your toes in the writing world via freelancing, either alongside your studies or afterwards. You'll be surprised how quickly you will build up clients and new skills. Put yourself out there; ask local businesses if they need help with their marketing or social media. Remember: good writing is an incredibly valuable commodity.
What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?
I'd be happy to answer questions on working as a copywriter or, more generally, making a career from writing (including freelance).
If you like the look of Kiera’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Kiera a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Kiera to be your mentor.